Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles A typical scene of Japanese salary men relaxing after work served by women. Except, at this bar, the women are the customers turning the tables. Now, take a closer look because the 'male hosts' are also women, masquerading as men. At the New Marilyn bar, a woman can unburden herself on a sympathetic 'male' knowing she'll be perfectly understood. Confused? This is Japanese female sexuality in the 1990s. There is a new boldness about Japanese women these days. Some are calling it a female 'sex boom'. But, just like the New Marilyn bar back there, it's a social trend full of contradictions and surprises and one that does not necessarily conform to Western notions of 'women's lib'. Her name is Ulala Aikawa. Ulala is a sex counsellor and purveyor of ladies pleasure products Recently it's become easier for Japanese women to buy these things. Although they may feel they want to become sexy, I think it's because they've already become more active. This is a slightly erotic 'How To' video I want to introduce In Japanese terms, Ulala is a pioneer of female sexual emancipation. This is a scene of a man and woman having sex. Her 'How To' videos for women are being featured on television talk shows This segment was aired midafternoon in housewives peak viewing time This commercialisation, the flourishment of sexual representation itself stresses the women's pleasure which encourages women it's perfectly OK for women to pursue their pleasure. So, it's in a sense a by product of male-oriented porn. Chizuko Ueno is Japan's leading feminist scholar. She welcomes the fact that Japanese women are becoming more sexually demanding. Even though it may be a limited victory. I would call it liberation from within bed, rather than at work places. And this commercialisation of sexuality is actually both positive and negative. So we have to take advantage of any kind of change in this market economy. Voiceover In the 'open market' of sex, Japanese women are now free to enjoy this In Tokyo's most fashionable neighbourhood, the J-Men's Club serves up 'bump and grind' for petite college students and office ladies. The sort who usually giggle behind their hands in male company. Last week Disneyland this week, well, another kind of fantasy. The all-American strippers average two thousand dollars a week, just in tips. One way to a skimpier trade deficit. That Japan should need to import sex entertainment of any sort is puzzling, given its own cultural heritage. In folk festivals, like this one near Tokyo, the sex organs are worshipped as gods of fertility and paraded through the streets. Japan's native Shinto religion celebrates human sexuality uninhibited by shame or guilt. The same attitude inspired the great wood-block artists of the past. Their 'shunga', or Spring Pictures, explored sexual pleasure in all its variety. The emphasis was on men and women in mutual enjoyment sex as a technique of love. In the modern era, with increasing state control and influence from the West, things have changed. An obscenity law requires publishers and film-makers to obliterate the genitalia. But it's bureaucratic censorship ... that leads to absurd double-standards. In the office of a men's porn magazine, the editor's red felt pen draws the line at pubic hair yet doesn't blush at graphic images of female humiliation. I can't sell these magazines without touching them up. So this something I have to do. Is it a kind of art to put in as little as possible? That's right. The readers prefer it that way. It's even easier to make a nonsense of the law in the fantasy world of comics, or 'manga', as they're called here. These are erotic 'manga' - available at any newsstand with annual sales in the hundreds of millions. The typical ingredients of their stories are rape, paedophilia and sado-masochism. So it may surprise you to learn that erotic manga are now also being produced and read by women. Milk Morizono is one of the first artists to create erotic manga for women. Her comics, 'Feel'', and 'Young Feel', sell over a quarter of a million copies a month. The Heroine's lover has been captured by a famous married couple who like sadomasochism. To get to him she has to join their bondage party for group sex. That's the story so far. All the usual ingredients of manga for men. Except, in these stories, the women use their sexuality to get their own way. In erotic manga for men, the women are men's dolls or slaves. That's the way men would like to manipulate women. In my case it's different, the opposite. In this story, the woman is not obedient to the man. She's independent and pursues her own career in the fashion industry. Once a target of feminist criticism, women's manga are being seen in a new light In men's comics women are always victims. But in female comics, women, well, in the guise of victim, she takes control of the offenders. A similar kind of control game is going on here. The discos call it 'body consciousness' ... female patrons who pay to become the stage show. Men are spectators, not partners, in this game ... kept at a distance, while the dancers urge each other on. It's a private-public show of independence by women whose lives away from the disco are a very different story. They are actually just ordinary girls working as OLs. Office Ladies? Yes, office ladies. They usually have a quite boring frustrated job. So, as a compensation they want to attract male attention, as an inaccessible object. The disco display would have been unthinkable a few years ago - but, then, much has changed for Japanese women. They now make up forty per cent of the workforce. More women than men are taking degrees. And many are seeking a more equal partnership in marriage. Seijitsu. You want your husband to be faithful. In this class if your husband had an affair would you divorce him? American academic, Anne Sokalsky, is surveying how Japanese women feel about their lives. Would you divorce him? Absolutely OK. Why? Because it's not fair to me. Also to him. So absolutely. Personally I don't respect me. Because until now men would call themselves 'Great', 'Great'. It is, it's what they say. But actually they were propped up by the women all the time. These college students are typical of a more outspoken Japanese womanhood. I think it's a reflection of women becoming more vocal. The increasing women's consciousness here. The fact that their real power - it's no longer being as secretive as it used to be. Women are starting to stand up for their rights. They're starting to claim more through the law. After the titles a one minute bath scene, centre position. Unlike foreigners Japanese women don't show all of themselves, and don't try to be sexy. Japanese are more reserved. But, I don't think it has to be that way. A most public face, and someone who gives a final twist to this tale, is Ai Iijima. Her office is a television studio ... hosting a show which tops the late-night ratings. Everybody, are you feeling run down? To relieve stress, a bath is the best thing ... It's not a cable channel - but a free-to-air broadcast. The 'Wueen of the G-String' is a respectable star in Japan ... she even gets fan mail from primary school children. It's a bath-house special tonight. And now ... Yet this is someone who began her careen as a porn video actress. In this season, the best combination is a pretty girl and a draught beer in a bath ... The image of adult videos is not good. So we try to erase it and she herself has stopped. With a good image she's now able to appear in quiz shows. Through this program, I'd like to create more stars like her. Is this pitch by the producer merely an excuse for crass commercial exploitation? Or does the show represent a mutually advantageous pact between commercial enterprise and Japanese women? The fact is Iijima-san has more female admirers than men women who see her as a role-model. Although the star herself qualifies that admiration. I'm glad to hear that. But only the outside, not the inside. I didn't go to school so much, I didn't study and I've had a hard time, which I regret. I don't want them to follow me in that way. Here is a new motto for a restless society: 'Girls, enjoy your bodies, but study hard.' In this sexual awakening, old distinctions have become blurred. Anyone is now a potential object of desire anyone a potential consumer of the desirable. Whether pleasing men or just pleasing themselves. Changing the plot or being caught in one. That is the paradox, the living dilemma, of Japanese women in the 1990s.